JGR driver would need win, top-30 points position to make playoffs
Kyle Busch will be eligible to make the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup if he wins a race and cracks the top 30 in the driver points standings. On Wednesday, NASCAR granted a waiver to the Joe Gibbs Racing driver who will return to racing in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM).
Under the guidelines of the current Chase format, drivers and car owners must start all points events of the current season to be eligible for the Chase, unless otherwise authorized by NASCAR.
Despite missing the season’s first 11 races, NASCAR has waived the Chase requirement for Busch. Should he win one of the remaining 15 regular-season points races and make the top 30 in points or earn a spot based on his position in the points standings, he would be one of the 16 drivers in this year’s Chase field.
Similar situations have come up before — three other drivers have been granted waivers since NASCAR retooled the Chase format before the start of the 2014 season.
Tony Stewart, out for three races last summer after his involvement in an on-track fatality in a non-NASCAR sanctioned event, was given the all clear to pursue a Chase spot upon his return. Stewart was unable to qualify for the 10-race program.
Before the start of the 2015 season, NASCAR announced driver Brian Vickers would be eligible for a Chase spot after missing this season’s first two races due to health issues.
Kurt Busch was suspended for the first three races of the season as a result of domestic violence allegations made by former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. A Kent County (Delaware) family judge granted Driscoll a protective order, however the State Attorney General declined to file charges against the driver. Busch was reinstated and granted a Chase waiver. Last month, he won at Richmond and is currently in the provisional playoff field with the victory and a 14th-place points position.
Last year, Denny Hamlin missed one race (at Auto Club Speedway), won one race (at Talladega Superspeedway) and was awarded one of the 16 Chase starting positions, and this year, Kyle Larson missed a race in March at Martinsville Speedway, but both drivers took part in Coors Light Pole Qualifying to remain Chase-eligible.
The largest amount of points a driver can gain in a Sprint Cup event is 48. Tony Stewart, the driver currently in 30th place in the standings, has 179 points through 11 races — an average of 16.27 points earned per race. If that pace continues, the 30th-place driver would have 423 points at the end of the regular season.
To reach that level, Busch would have to average 28.2 points per race — just better than 16th place, without bonus points for leading a lap — for the remaining 15 regular-season races. A max-points victory during that span would mean Busch would only have to finish 17th or better in the other 14 events.
In all but his rookie season and last season, Busch has averaged a 15.5-place finish, and he has made the Chase in seven of his 10 full-time seasons.
NASCAR.com’s Zack Albert and Kenny Bruce contributed to this story.